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Severe Kidney Disease

Severe Kidney Disease

What do Healthy Kidneys do?

- kidneysYour kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fists. They are located near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage. Inside each kidney about a million tiny structures called nephrons filter blood. They remove waste products and extra water, which become urine. The urine flows through tubes called ureters to your bladder, which stores the urine until you go to the bathroom.

Damage to the nephrons results in kidney disease. This damage may leave kidneys unable to remove wastes. Usually the damage occurs slowly over years. There are no obvious symptoms, so you don't know it is happening.

Many things can cause kidney disease. You are at risk if you have

Your doctor can run tests to find out if you have kidney disease. If your kidneys fail completely, a kidney transplant or dialysis can replace the work your kidneys normally do.

Chronic kidney disease, a type of kidney disease most commonly caused by diabetes and high blood pressure.

What you should know about kidney disease:

About Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease—called kidney disease here for short—is a condition in which the small blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, making the kidneys unable to do their job. Waste then builds up in the blood, harming the body.

Kidney disease is most often caused by diabetes or high blood pressure.

Diabetes and high blood pressure damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, so the kidneys are not able to filter the blood as well as they used to. Usually this damage happens slowly, over many years. As more and more blood vessels are damaged, the kidneys eventually stop working.

Other risk factors for kidney disease are cardiovascular (heart) disease and a family history of kidney failure. If you have any of these risk factors, you should get tested for kidney disease.

Early kidney disease has no symptoms - That means you can’t feel that you have it. In fact, you might feel just fine until your kidneys have almost stopped working. Don’t wait for symptoms. Blood and urine tests are the only way to know if you have kidney disease. A blood test measures your GFR and a urine test checks for protein. Learn more about tests for kidney disease.

Kidney disease can be treated if detected early. - The right treatment can help prevent further kidney damage and slow down kidney disease. The earlier kidney disease is found, the sooner you can take medications, called ACE inhibitors or ARBs, and other steps that can keep your kidneys healthy longer. Learn more about how to keep your kidneys healthy.

Kidney disease is progressive. - Kidney disease does not go away. Instead, it usually gets worse over time. Kidney disease can turn into kidney failure, at which point dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed. Kidney disease can also lead to heart disease. Learn more about what happens if your kidneys fail.

Take the first step - If you are at risk, get your blood and urine checked for kidney disease.

Testing for Kidney Disease

Early kidney disease doesn't have symptoms, so testing is the only way to know how your kidneys are working. It's important for you to get tested for kidney disease if you have the key risk factors – diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular (heart) disease, or a family history of kidney failure.

A blood test and a urine test are used to check for kidney disease.

When to Get Tested - The earlier kidney disease is found, the earlier it can be treated. See below to find out how often you should get checked for kidney disease if you are at risk. Click-here for Health Tip-of-the-Day.

Keep your Kidneys Healthy

If you are at risk for kidney disease, the most important steps you can take to keep your kidneys healthy are:

If tests show kidney disease, there are blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors and ARBs that you can take to protect your kidneys.  These medicines can help your kidneys even if you don’t have high blood pressure. Learn more about treating kidney disease.

Tips for People with Diabetes

For more information on managing diabetes, visit the National Diabetes Education Program.

Tips for People with High Blood Pressure or Heart Disease

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